In June 2014, the City of Palo Alto held the finale of the Palo Alto Apps Challenge. It was a 1-hour, televised event, that caught the imagination of the community and people around the world (You can watch it here).
The challenge began in early 2014 as a way to engage a wide range of people in thinking about and developing solutions around the theme of civic engagement. The solutions would be specifically geared to work on smartphones as apps. Participants were encouraged to submit their ideas and move through a series of elimination rounds until only 10 remained at the finale. Almost 90 teams entered with thoughtful and innovative ideas. At the finale, three winners were announced to much acclaim.
Today, almost one year later, second place winners, the AdoptMeApp team, has seen their solution get used across the Bay Area and there’s interest from other regions and countries.
In creating this unique event for the Palo Alto community, the City broke ground on designing and learning how to conduct a fun and engaging multi-month community apps competition. The entire process was documented so that it could be repeated by others, not just in Palo Alto, but anywhere. To this end, the work has been documented and published in a new, free ebook called The Apps Challenge Playbook. It is available in PDF format. Please feel free to download and distribute without restriction. We hope that others will run their own apps challenges so that communities near and far can benefit from the solutions that citizens build for their own towns and cities.